New Who: The Story Thus Far – Series 5 (Episodes 1-6)

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John Hussey continues his series analysing the revival, this time with Series 5.


2010 saw a radical change for the new series of Doctor Who in both the lead roles and production crew. Russell T Davies stepped down as Head Writer and Executive Producer along with David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. Davies had run the show since the show’s return in 2005, proudly leaving behind a legacy in bringing the Time Lord back to life and allowing the show to stand tall once more. Now a new era began with Steven Moffat taking the reigns and Matt Smith now playing the iconic role what would become known as “the mad man with a box”.

‘The Eleventh Hour’

Doctor-Who-The-Eleventh-Hour (6)The Eleventh Doctor entered with a bumpy start as the TARDIS flew out of control and left him dangling outside. Once things seemed settled his ship flung him into the back-garden of young Amelia Pond (Caitlin Blackwood). Unlike the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) in ‘The Christmas Invasion’ ‘The Eleventh Hour’ had the Eleventh Doctor up and active from the word go. His childish nature was seen fairly early on as he settled into his new body by diving into swimming pools, crashing into walls and deciding upon a specific taste of fancy (chucking away several food items in the process). Upon settling on his prized dish of fish fingers and custard the Eleventh Doctor made a new best friend with Amelia, discovering the young Scottish girl lost her parents in uncertain circumstances. Afterwards the Eleventh Doctor came into first contact with the Time Cracks, something that became of major importance throughout the Eleventh Doctor’s era. This started the ‘silence will fall arc’ which ran (unknown to us at the time) throughout the entire era and ended with the Eleventh Doctor’s final story ‘The Time of the Doctor’.

The Eleventh Doctor was forced to leave Amelia behind to fix the TARDIS but promised her the chance to travel with him upon his return. Little did he know he’d make the poor girl wait twelve years before he returned for her. Amelia was now Amy (Karen Gillan) and had undergone extensive visits to psychiatrists due to her belief in ‘the raggedy man’. Her anger had to wait as the Eleventh Doctor turned his attention onto Prisoner Zero (voiced by William Wilde) who had used the Time Crack to escape the Atraxi (voiced by David de Keyser). As well as a grown-up Amelia we were also introduced to Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) who served as the bumbling boyfriend, similar to Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke). Though unlike Mickey Rory was a little more on the ball and helpful within his first appearance.

The Atraxi threatened to destroy the Earth if Prisoner Zero didn’t hand itself in. The Eleventh Doctor defeated the sinister multi-form by hacking into a conference that included the likes of Patrick Moore and then devised a virus that turned all the clocks around the world to 11 o’clock. This virus led the Atraxi back to Prisoner Zero via the source on Rory’s phone. It was a clever resolution to the Eleventh Doctor’s first story. Prisoner Zero’s final words foreshadowed elements for the ‘silence will fall arc’ consisting of the origins behind the Time Cracks and the first mentioning of the Pandorica which featured in ‘The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang’. The Eleventh Doctor then stole his new outfit from a hospital (like the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) before him) and then called the Atraxi back for a massive scolding. This declared Matt Smith as the Doctor.

‘The Eleventh Hour’ did all the right things to give Smith and Steven Moffat the start they needed after the tough act Tennant and Russell T Davies left behind. The only fault I can find was the story felt too simple in places (like with Davies’ openers) and the threat, as perilous as it was, didn’t seem threatening enough due to the circumstances of the plot. Once again the Eleventh Doctor accidentally abandoned Amy again but upon returning for a second time he granted her the position of companion (after his period of loneliness during the end of the Tenth Doctor’s era). They set off on their new adventures together with the Time Lord (using his brand-spanking new TARDIS and Sonic Screwdriver) unaware that Amy was due to get married the following day.

‘The Beast Below’

Doctor-Who-The-Beast-Below-(11)‘The Beast Below’ was certainly a simplistic story in many ways and wasn’t the normal type of plot devised by Steven Moffat. It wasn’t one of his best, but not his worst either. I find it an entertaining storyline, though some aspects of it came across as very complicated and didn’t really make sense. It was an emotional piece and placed humanity once again in the wrong as they tortured an innocent Star Whale in order to travel across the stars away from certain doom back on Earth. The story did do what it said on the tin and that was to give Amy her first journey within the TARDIS. Compared to previous companions’ first journey within the new series this was a lot grander in the sense of scale and distance.

Amy’s first adventure consisted of a visit to a spaceship in the far future in the middle of space rather than a visit to one of Earth’s different points in history. The whole idea of the Doctor not interfering with the affairs of others was a massive ploy and almost hypocritical for sounding like one of his own people. Surely enough within moments of him saying that he was off and interfering in order to solve the problems of Starship UK. The Smilers and Winders were a bit creepy but weren’t really used to their full advantage, especially since they were advertised as something that would be threatening during promotion.

Liz Ten (Sophie Okonedo) was a good character and her involvement within the end game was both tragic and horrific. The ultimate dilemma of either saving an innocent creature from torture at the cost of her own people or allowing its suffering to continue for the sake of her people. The Eleventh Doctor’s reaction to all of this was an early sign to his darker side (then again his scolding and the usage of his name towards the Atraxi was another clear indication too) and even became angry towards Amy and her mistakes, declaring she was only human. The new Doctor was certainly more alien than his predecessor. Amy coming in to save the day was a nice moment to show off what she could do and that the Eleventh Doctor needed someone to help him. It was the clear indication that Amy could make him better and bring out his fun side. We were given indication right at the end of the story that the Time Cracks were something important and perhaps dangerous after one appeared on the hull of Starship UK. Not the best episode in the universe but ‘The Beast Below’ certainly got the era heading in the right direction.

‘Victory of the Daleks’

Victory of the Daleks Tea (1)Naturally the Daleks would have to show up at some point and it was within Steven Moffat’s interest to get them in as early as possible. The Daleks at that point had mostly been written by Russell T Davies so it was good to see Moffat hand over their first story for the Eleventh Doctor to someone else, i.e. Mark Gatiss. Gatiss went along the right routes with their return and brought a simplistic storyline that wasn’t too massive in scale but had enough action and tension to really give the Daleks a sense of threat. It was a clever idea to have them brought to World War Two as their very creator Terry Nation had based the destructive war-machines off of the Nazis themselves. Ironic really that within this story they were seen shooting the Nazis down.

‘Victory of the Daleks’ went about to make the Daleks sly and cunning. The Eleventh Doctor was left in shock finding them helping his old friend Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice) (who had phoned him in for help at the end of ‘The Beast Below’). Using ideas from ‘The Power of the Daleks’, even having a spin on the legendary line “I am your servant”, the Daleks made out they were Ironsides, a creation by Professor Bracewell (Bill Paterson) and pretended to be an alley to the British forces to win the war. The Eleventh Doctor through a peak of rage, one of my personal favourite moments between the Time Lord and his enemy, attacked a Dalek with a wrench and declared his authority over the creatures he despises above all else in order to prove who they really were. As it turned out this was all a ploy to use the Eleventh Doctor’s testimony to activate the Progenitor device in order to give birth to a brand new set of Daleks through pure DNA. This couldn’t have been done without the Time Lord due to their own bloodline being impure because of them being born from Davros’s DNA within ‘The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End’.

The Paradigm was born consisting of the Supreme, Strategist, Scientist, Eternal and Drone. They destroyed the impure and claimed their victory by escaping back to the present to rebuild their empire which would make the Daleks more powerful than ever. The Paradigm knew the Eleventh Doctor would become distracted by stopping the bomb within Bracewell, who was now revealed as an android created by the Daleks as part of their disguise, from destroying the Earth. Earth was saved but the battle was technically lost and this was the key to ‘Victory of the Daleks’ as they actually beat the Doctor and started off their return to power (something they really started to lack within Russell T Davies’s era). Another Time Crack was seen within the Cabinet War Rooms (once again unseen by the Eleventh Doctor and Amy). There was also the puzzling mystery behind why Amy didn’t recognise the Daleks from their last invasion of Earth.

‘The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone’

angel-flesh-and-stone-jacketIt was inevitable from the success of ‘Blink’ that the Weeping Angels would make a return and ‘The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone’ made this possible. Not only did the Lonely Assassins return in style they also received a huge amount of terrifying advancements to their design. Their game of “Grandmother’s footsteps” was no longer the only thing for the Doctor to worry about. The Weeping Angels started using their new abilities (which the previous Angels were unable to do due to being reduced to scavengers) such as implanting themselves into their victims eyes upon them looking into them, turning a image of themselves into an Angel, and finally their usage of violence instead of time displacement. The other addition to their terrifying ways was the fact there was an army of Weeping Angels instead of a small group. Through their sinister mind games with Amy we began to see a further malevolent side to the creatures which made those scenes more sinister and threatening. Also the part where the Eleventh Doctor finally realised that the stone statues surrounding them in the Maze of the Dead were actually Weeping Angels was just chilling. Their sly ways of attacking their foe was still there and simply grew in proportion from their first outing. Many don’t agree with seeing them move during the forest scenes but I for one found this to be quite tense and an uneasy set of sequences.

‘The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone’ also brought about the return of River Song who leapt back into the Doctor’s life in style and grace. We slowly learned more about her mysterious character. This time we met a less advanced River (i.e. she didn’t possess her rank of professor) and the Eleventh Doctor now held secrets about River (i.e. the knowledge of her death). River was revealed by Father Octavian (Iain Glen) to be a prisoner within the Stormcage Facility on the charges of murdering an important person, a hero to many. This, in my opinion, made you second judge River and left you questioning her character somewhat further.

The Time Cracks returned and this time they became a genuine threat and were put clearly into the centre plotline by the Eleventh Doctor with the Weeping Angels no longer being the problem. He determined that these Cracks could un-write history and anyone caught within them. This concluded why the events of ‘The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End’ were absent from Amy’s memories. The chilling moments when each of the Clerics protecting Amy forgot each other as their memories rewrote themselves demonstrated this first-hand. The Eleventh Doctor also determined that the Time Cracks were the result of a massive explosion in time on the day of Amy and Rory’s wedding. The Time Crack in the end was used to destroy the Weeping Angels, an irony on their part since they were trying to harness its power to re-grow their army. River was sent back to the Stormcage Facility, hoping to this time receive a pardon, but not before she did a typical River-ending of giving the Doctor hints towards the future. The Pandorica was mentioned again, with it to be their next encounter together from the Doctor’s perspective, but the Eleventh Doctor merely brushed it off as a fairy tale.

The Eleventh Doctor took Amy home only to be told about her wedding to Rory and then nearly seduced by his companion (which became very creepy upon realising who she was to him after the events of ‘The Wedding of River Song’). This was very different indeed and the Eleventh Doctor’s reaction to it all was just completely amusing and demonstrated his idiotic ways with relationships. In order to save Amy’s marriage the Eleventh Doctor decided to step in and intervene. If anything ‘The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone’ demonstrated the Eleventh Doctor’s character and that he could perform a badass speech that left you in excitement.

‘The Vampires of Venice’

Vampires-of-Venice-(11)Rory Williams was brought back in style within ‘The Vampires of Venice’ as he happily enjoyed his stag-night before it was strangely interrupted by the Eleventh Doctor jumping out of a stripper’s cake. The Eleventh Doctor continued his scheme of getting Amy and Rory back on the right foot, though unfortunately saying the wrong things in the process, by giving them both a holiday present. This entailed a romantic visit to Ancient Venice but of course the Doctor was visiting so it meant that things would go terribly wrong. The romance was cut short from the appearance of Vampires. The investigation took them to Rosanna Calvierri’s (Helen McCrory) school for girls where it was eventually discovered that she was in fact a Saturnyn who plotted to convert her school-girls into her own kind. This was devised due to the Time Cracks stealing their home-world and leaving her and her sons the last of their kind. The school-girls would act as mothers to the next generation of Saturnyns. Rosanna referenced the fact that through some Cracks they could see silence, another foreshadowing to the origins of the Time Cracks.

Rory was no longer (to some extent) the bumbling boyfriend anymore and understood more about the Doctor’s world through extensive research on the latest scientific theories. He went as far as confronting the Eleventh Doctor on how he makes his companions prove themselves to the point of endangering their own lives. The Eleventh Doctor managed to prevent the sinking of Venice and the conclusion met with the Saturnyns becoming extinct after Guido (Lucian Msamati) sacrificed himself to destroy the converted school-girls, Amy killed Francesco (Alex Price) and Rosanna committed suicide. The rest of the children were taken by another unseen Time Crack and silence fell. The Eleventh Doctor decided upon letting Rory join him and Amy on their travels and the trio was born.

My Verdict

  • ‘The Eleventh Hour’ – 8/10
  • ‘The Beast Below’ – 9/10
  • ‘Victory of the Daleks’ – 10/10
‘The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone’ – 10/10
  • ‘The Vampires of Venice’ – 10/10

 Join us for part 2 tomorrow.